How to Add a Change Order to Your Contractor Agreement

How to Add a Change Order to Your Contractor Agreement

Formalize changes in your construction contract with a change order

By Glyn Sheridan

Contractor's Agreement
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Your contractor agreement is a binding contract that specifies the scope of your construction project and the price you must pay. During the construction process, however, you may change your mind or the contractor may encounter unforeseen aspects of the job that require additional work, especially if the project is a remodel. The client or the contractor may submit a change order that will alter the contract and affect the cost. Once both parties accept a change order, it becomes part of the contract.

  • What You Need to Know
  • A change order is necessary to altering any part of your construction agreement. This includes factors on both the contractor's end -- such as construction timelines and materials needed -- and on the homeowner's end -- such as pay schedules.
  • Gather cost sheets, material lists or fixture prices, architectural plans and any other information relevant to the change you are requesting.
  • You'll need a blank sheet of paper or a fill-in-the-blank change order form.

Step 1:

List both the contractor's name and the client's name. While most contractors have blank forms, as long as you include the pertinent information, you can use a plain piece of paper.

Step 2:

Include the date of the request, and write down the physical address of the project and a brief description of the original project. While this may seem repetitive since the original contract states this information, it serves to identify the change order if a dispute later arises. If the contractor has assigned a project number, include that as well.

Step 3:

Describe the requested change in detail. Because a change order, if accepted, becomes part of a legal contract, what you write down is the official record of the change you are requesting. If the original contract was to build an addition and now you want a deck, specify the dimensions of the deck, the type of lumber you want, the exact location and any other specifics that relate to the new deck.

Step 4:

Detail the reason for the change. You can request a change order for any reason, but state your rationale since the change alters the existing agreement. Some changes may be a reflection of your personal taste, such as painting additional rooms or adding a bay window, while other changes may indicate needed structural repairs due to damage from rot or termites.

Step 5:

Write down all the associated costs. For example, if the original contract quoted $20,000 for the construction of the addition, write that amount as the "Original Cost," and below it write the cost of the change and add the two amounts for a new total cost. Every time you add a new change order, record the original cost, the previous amended cost and the new total cost. In this way, you can track each change and the effect on the total cost.

Step 6:

List any relevant supporting documents, and attach them to the change order. If you're requesting a new deck, include the deck plans and a materials list or other information pertaining to the proposed deck.

Step 7:

Sign and date the change order, and request that the other party do the same. Until both parties accept the change order, it is not valid and the existing contract still takes precedence.

  • Tips & Warnings
  • Discuss the change before submitting the change order to keep the other party from feeling "blindsided."
  • Negotiate if some details in a change order are not acceptable to both parties.
  • Don't sign a change order if you feel it is unwarranted or unfair. Contact an attorney.

About the Author

Glyn Sheridan is a regular contributor to DexKnows.

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